By Jim Wolf
Dec 7, 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States must expand its capabilities
to shut down enemy electronic networks, U.S. Air Force Secretary
Michael Wynne said on Tuesday.
In an interview in his Pentagon office, Wynne said one way of knocking
out a cell phone tower, short of bombing it, was through "a big
electromagnetic burst ... as you've heard before and which has been
"I think one of the things we're trying to figure out is, is there a
softer way to do that," he said, referring to electro-magnetic pulse
attacks. "Those investigations continue to go on."
The Air Force was expanding its focus on cyber warfare as an add-on to
its existing missions to fight in air and space, Wynne said in the
interview that was part of the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.
The Air Force would provide personnel and other resources to the
Nebraska-based Strategic Command that has responsibility for cyber
war, both defense and offense.
Strategic Command has been given the job of integrating and
coordinating large-scale cyber response and defense, using units
provided, trained and equipped by the armed services, said a
spokesman, Master Sgt. Philip Carder.
The United States maintains capabilities to use cyberspace as a medium
"through which we will deter, deny, or defeat any adversary that seeks
to harm U.S. national and economic security," Carder said in an
emailed reply to a query.
The United States electronically jabbed Serbian computer networks
during the 78-day NATO bombing campaign over Kosovo in 1999, Army Gen.
Henry Shelton, then the top U.S. military officer said.
"We only used our capability to a very limited degree," Shelton, then
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Oct. 7, 1999.
Wynne said the capability to mount operations in cyberspace was a
natural expansion of the Air Force's mission because of its ability to
download data from platforms in space.
"So the Air Force has sort of been a natural leader in the cyber
world," he said. "And we thought it would be better to realize that
talent as a mission of the Air Force.
"We would like to make sure that the president has available to him
all the options --- non-kinetic, kinetic -- for all-out, if you will,
warfare brought to him by the Air Force on behalf of the joint fight,"
"We just can't just be playing defense in this world," Wynne added.
"At some point in time we have to develop some offensive skills."
An attorney who specializes in the implications of military activities
in cyberspace said the legality of offensive operations was fraught
"Some of the best lawyers in the military are hard at work on this
problem," said Thomas Wingfield of the Potomac Institute for Policy
Studies in Arlington, Virginia.
"How does the international law governing the use of military force
apply to cyberspace, where hackers are anonymous, sponsoring
governments hide their affiliation, and many of the targets, tactics,
and weapons are largely without precedent?" Wingfield said in an
e-mail to Reuters.
=A9 Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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